CN: This post includes gendered insults as used in colloquial understanding of sexual violence. Also some mentalist language in an explanation of colloquial understanding of psychological disorders.

It is not uncommon that the reasons people give others to support are movements for social justice, are meant to appease them. The reasons provided are meant to in some way make the movements personal to the individuals and make it about them. The problem is this is often done at the expense of those marginalized. It is often framed in a way where the marginalized are only deemed important through an extension of the privileged who are being oppressed.

An example of this is a typical argument given to men on why they should care about “women’s issues” such as sexual violence. Men are told that they should not rape women because this could be their daughter, mother, sister, etc.  Men are told to think about how they would feel if it was their mother, daughter, sister, etc, that was sexually assaulted. Admittedly, yes this often gets men to stop in their tracks and think about how sexual violence affects their community. BUT it erases the person-hood of women. Women are no longer to be respected as women or as humans, but instead as an extension of men. The argument becomes “women can’t be raped because they are important in one way or another to men, and possibly to me as a man”. The idea of women as humans needing basic rights is erased. Moreover, it enables men to use degrading tactics to justify their behavior toward women. That is, slut-shaming a woman or calling her a bitch, allows men to remove themselves emotionally from this woman. A woman who is a “slut” or a “bitch” cannot possibly be viewed as a “mother” or “daughter”, therefore it become permissible for a man to violate or degrade her.

In terms of mental health, the same kind of argument is used. We are often asked to care about people with psychological disorders and not use mentalist language because it could be our x,y, or z relation. But this means we can disrespect those who we cannot see in that position. For example, this argument often does not encompass someone who is homeless and schizophrenic. If one does not have experiences with homelessness, then the homeless man on the subway going through a psychosis episode becomes “undeserving” of empathy. Such individuals are then subject to degradation and discrimination. It becomes “okay” because after all, they can never be like “us” or one of “our relations”, right?

So what needs to happen in terms of mental health justice, as well as any social justice really, is the acceptance and inclusion of individuals on the basis of existence. A person with a mental health issue or psychological disorder needs to be affirmed, respected, included, understood, and listened to because they are.